Book Cover
Title The Witching Hour
Author Anne Rice
Cover Art ---
Publisher Ballantine Books - 1993
First Printing Ballantine Books - 1990
Book Cover
Title Lasher
Author Anne Rice
Cover Art ---
Publisher Ballantine Books - 1995
First Printing Ballantine Books - 1993
Book Cover
Title Taltos
Author Anne Rice
Cover Art ---
Publisher Ballantine Books - 1996
First Printing Ballantine Books - 1994
Category Horror
Warnings Explicity sex, incest, homosexuality
Main Characters Lasher, Rowan Mayfair, Michael Curry, Aaron Lightner, Mona Mayfair, Ashlar
Main Elements Spirits, Taltos

Click to read the summaryThe Witching Hour

Click to read the summaryLasher

Click to read the summaryTaltos

This is the tale of the Mayfair witches and the spirit which they command, a non-corporeal being the first Mayfair named Lasher for the sound of the wind he could make through the grasses of the Scottish highlands. Over the centuries, the Talamasca, an order dedicated to observing the supernatural but not interferring with it, have watched this family with interest. They fear the influence Lasher has on the women of the family, as if he is guiding them to some rapidly approaching goal. Centuries have passed since Suzanne first summoned Lasher, and now Rowan Mayfair, an orphan sent away from the Garden District family home to spare her Lasher's influence, is about to inherit the family's legacy. Michael Curry, a man who nearly drowned but returned to life with the ability to see the history of things he touches, falls in love with her, and wants to protect her from her dark destiny. Aaron Lightner, the Talamascan assigned to the Mayfair case is determined to thwart Lasher's desire to become human. If you've read the Vampire Chronicles, you'll understand why this could be a very bad thing. If you haven't read them, then you are about to find out.

The reviews on the cover are correct. This is a gothic tale, sexual and dark with an atmosphere as dense as the humidity of an New Orleans summer. Even just reading the first few pages I felt this book would have the same feel as Interview with the Vampire.

Well, I was right and I was wrong. While The Witching Hour has the same kind of eerie atmosphere as IwtV, it was....slow. I think it took me nearly a month to finish reading. Now this is going to turn off a lot of people. The first three hundred pages was about the same event seen through the eyes of many different people. Interesting but at some point you want to move on already. The next three hundred was the history of the Mayfairs. Now this I enjoyed, but I like historical stuff and this was put together as a bunch of letters, diary entries and witness accounts. You learn about the family, but since all the documents are from outsiders, you don't know they "why" something is, or the secrets hidden behind closed doors. Just rumours and heresay leaving you wondering about the true nature of the being named Lasher, "the man" frequently seen with the Mayfairs women, the family "ghost". The final three hundred really pick up the pace, and you finally learn about the true nature of Lasher. And it ends with a very distubing evil being unleashed. You can't help be enchanted by the creature while at the same time you are disgusted by it.

So I worked my way through this 1000+ page book. I have to admit about halfway through I couldn't imagine that there would be enough story left for two more novels. Well, I can see where the second one will fit in, but a third? Guess I'll have to read them to find out!

So if you enjoy more atmosphere and soul-searching than you enjoy action, what else might you like about these books. Well, it is a kind of mystery. Which of the Mayfairs are good, which are murderers, and which ones are just innocent bystanders. As I said, you don't have omniscient narrators, each are flawed and have their own bias. So you have to work your way through the information to try to find the truth. Even when Lasher himself tells Rowan his goals, and while a shiver of evil trickles down your spine, you aren't convinced he's lying, or even that he isn't justified in wanting to be given mortal flesh. He has as much right to live as the rest of us...right? He just wants to know what it is to laugh.

And I can't help but enjoy the scientific explanation of Lasher's existence, I am after all a computer engineer and some magics are really just science we don't yet understand...

If you've read the Vampire Chronicles, you will discover that this trilogy is placed in the same world. Though you will not meet any vampires (though a cameo of Lestat walking through the Garden District would have been fun), the Talamasca is in the forefront, and Lasher is the kind of spirit that the red-haired twins once commanded. I even recall the character Aaron Lightner from the Chronicles, so that created a kind of familiarity that was interesting.

So while I'm about to start the second book, I did have to take a break from the Mayfair Witches and read some lighter fare. But considering I'm more into vampires than witches, Rice created such a bizarre, fascinating and creepy Lasher that I must know what happens next.

I must add this, Anne Rice clearly loves her New Orleans. Her descriptions of the streets, houses and people made you not only want to go there, but feel as if you already were there.

August 2010

We'll I've now finished the other two books in the series. Now I know they are categorized as horror, but the Lasher installment just icked me out. I don't much care to read about women who are repeatedly raped but at the same time are so enthralled by their captors that they don't try to escape. I will admit that Lasher is quite intriguing, you almost want to believe that he means no harm, even when he turns around and kills someone. But ultimately I was disappointed by the true nature of the spirit and the end to which he came.

However Taltos is an entirely different story. I really liked Ashlar. While Lasher was a bumbling newborn tainted by human blood, Ashlar was probably more what a Taltos should be. The character of Morrigan seemed unecessary somehow, a distraction from the rest of the story. If she was meant to wrap up the "happy ending" it really didn't work for me, I felt it created new threads left hanging. Ah well. I know there is the Vampire Chronicles crossover, Merrick, so perhaps we'll learn more.

I'm not entirely certain Taltos would make complete sense to read on it's own, but if you find the first two books rather slow and a little too disturbing for comfort, you might want to jump to the third. Granted, the sex, incest and freaky pregnancies are still there, but somehow it doesn't have the same disgust factor that the other two books had for me.

Posted: June 2010


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